What is Sloth and Why is it a Capital, or "Deadly" Sin?
by Francine Morrissette
Most people wouldn't think of neglecting to feed their body every day, yet these people starve their souls. Starving the soul is called sloth: the fifth Deadly Sin.
Sloth is the fifth of the Seven Deadly Sins. They are classified as “deadly” or “mortal” sins because they kill the sanctifying grace in the sinenr's soul.
What Are Mortal Sins?
All of the Seven Deadly Sins are classified as "mortal" sins.
Mortal sins are acts or thoughts which make a person turn away from God and turn toward something ungodly instead.
Mortal sin “destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God… (Catechism of the Catholic Church section 1855).
Mortal sins erode the presence of Christ in the sinner’s soul. They bring pain, anguish and suffering to the one who sins and to those around him. Mortal sins jeopardize a soul’s eternal life.
What is Sloth?
Sloth is laziness, especially spiritual laziness. Sloth can be an attitude of procrastination; it can be the kind of laziness which shows disregard for the importance of others. Sloth is putting physical comfort before spiritual work.
Sloth is spiritual laziness which is a way of disrespecting God. Sloth means not being diligent in spiritual matters, like neglecting daily prayers, never reading the Bible or practicing devotions, and not paying attention at church. Sloth is the act of not feeding the soul.
Two Kinds of Sloth
Sloth doesn’t pertain only to spiritual matters, however. It can involve physical matters, too.
Sloth is spending an unbalanced amount of time doing nothing or doing only trivial things. Sloth is always wanting to “take it easy,” and never go out of the comfort zone.
Sloth is not considering making a sacrifice for someone else; not paying attention to the needs of the others. In short, sloth is irresponsible: it’s an aversion to physical and spiritual work.
Sloth Could Affect Placement in Heaven
A farmer who is overcome by sloth and does not tend his fields will become poor. Similarly, someone who doesn’t tend their soul will go spiritually bankrupt, possibly with eternal consequences.
Here’s a story that illustrates this idea of spiritual bankruptcy: A couple who dies arrives in heaven. In their earthly life, the husband focused on building excessive wealth, status and power. He ridiculed his wife for shunning material things and instead focusing on her spiritual life and being charitable towards others.
When the couple arrives in heaven, an angel takes the wife to a beautiful mansion right next door to God. He tells the husband that his house will be further down the road. The man is giddy with anticipation; for if his wife, a simple housewife gets a mansion just imagine the palace he’ll get! They travel further and further down the road, and end up at a tiny shack. "This can’t be right" the man scoffs, "how could this be my house?" The angel replies, "I did the best I could, but you didn’t send up any building materials!"
The Antidote to Sloth is Diligence
Sloth can be overcome by employing the virtue of diligence. To be diligent means to keep focused and pay attention to the work at hand. One who is diligent in prayer and worship will become more reverent and holy, and that diligence may have eternal rewards.